What Is an NHS Call Handler?


You Will Learn.

  • What does an NHS Call Handler do?
  • What are the responsibilities of an NHS Call Handler?
  • What qualifications does an NHS Call Handler need?
  • How much do NHS Call Handlers earn?
  • Who employs NHS Call Handlers?
  • What are the progression opportunities for an NHS Call Handler?
  • What makes a good NHS Call Handler?
  • Where are the latest NHS Call Handler jobs and how to apply for them?
An NHS Call Handler at work

What Does an NHS Call Handler Do?

An NHS Call Handler plays a crucial role within the UK healthcare system. They are responsible for answering incoming calls from patients and directing them to the appropriate medical services. They are often the first point of contact for those seeking medical advice or emergency assistance.

What Are the Responsibilities of an NHS Call Handler?

NHS Call Handlers play a vital role in ensuring that patients receive the appropriate medical care quickly and efficiently. They are trained to ask specific questions to assess callers' medical situations accurately. 

The main responsibilities of an NHS Call Handler include:

  • Answering incoming calls.
  • Directing calls to the appropriate medical services.
  • Asking the relevant questions to assess the caller's medical needs. 
  • Scheduling appointments for callers.
  • Providing first aid instructions to callers. 
  • Dispatching ambulances to emergencies.
  • Monitoring the progress of each call. 
  • Logging important information on computer systems.

Take Appropriate Action

Based on the information provided by callers, NHS Call Handlers must use their training to determine the best course of action for the individual. This may involve scheduling an appointment with a Doctor or Nurse, providing first aid instructions, or dispatching an ambulance in an emergency situation.


NHS Call Handlers are also responsible for maintaining accurate records of all calls, ensuring that the appropriate medical services are alerted promptly, and monitoring the progress of each case.

Frequently Asked Questions

To become an NHS Call Handler, there are typically no formal educational requirements beyond a minimum of GCSE qualifications or equivalent. However, employers may look for candidates who have a background in customer service or healthcare. 

Some employers may also require relevant work experience, such as previous call centre or emergency medical services experience and often employers will look for a high level of literacy, numeracy and IT skills. 

In addition to these qualifications, NHS Call Handlers must complete a rigorous training program to prepare them for the demands of the job. They must also pass a background check and provide references.

The average salary of an NHS Call Handler is around £18,000 to £24,000 per year. However, this can vary depending on several factors such as the location, level of experience, and the specific employer. 

NHS Call Handlers may work in NHS hospitals, medical centres, or emergency services centres, as well as for private healthcare providers. Many Call Handlers are also employed by the NHS 111 service.

In addition, some Call Handlers may be employed by specialised services such as mental health hotlines, drug and alcohol support services, or palliative care providers.

Working as an NHS Call Handler is often a starting point to a career in the ambulance service. NHS Call Handlers could become team leaders in charge of other call handlers or dispatchers.

What Makes a Good NHS Call Handler?

Key skills of an NHS Call Handler include: 

  • Patience and compassion.
  • Ability to take initiative on the spot.
  • Strong communication skills. 
  • Ability to work well under pressure.
  • Good I.T. skills. 
  • Good time management.
  • Ability to work as a team in a busy and noisy work environment.
  • Good listening and accurate note-taking skills.

Patience and Compassion

An NHS Call Handler must be a patient and compassionate individual in order to listen and build a rapport with callers and decipher the correct medical care needed.

Work Well Under Pressure

They must be able to work well under pressure to handle difficult calls where patients may be distressed. Strong communication skills are key to effectively talk callers through medical procedures or explain important information. 

NHS Call Handlers must be confident enough to take initiative; thinking on the spot and responding quickly to potentially dangerous situations.

Note-Taking and Organisational Skills

Accurate note-taking is critical to ensure no important detail is missed and no errors are made that could cause confusion to emergency workers or risk to a patient. Similarly, good I.T. skills are favourable in order to effectively use different computer systems to log important information. 

NHS Call Handlers must be able to manage their time effectively to ensure calls are handled efficiently and processed in a timely manner to prioritise patient safety.

Searching For NHS Call Handlers Jobs?

If you're searching for your next career opportunity, why not take a look at all the latest NHS Call Handler jobs available now?

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We work with hundreds of NHS Trusts, Local Authorities and private sector organisations throughout the UK so why not get in contact with one of our specialists who can advise on current and upcoming opportunities?


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